FELLOW was formed out of the Oxford Living Wage Campaign, a student campaign seeking to introduce a 'Living Wage' of £7 per hour across the city of Oxford. As part of that campaign, its members interviewed low paid workers in the University. Aside from pay and respect the main problem encountered was the price of English lessons. Many people found it too expensive to learn English in Oxford, and so had to get by with what they already knew.
Some members of the Living Wage Campaign met with Dermot Bryers, the founder of 'English for Action' in London. English for Action was a similar scheme run as part of the London Citizens organisation.
The people of the Church of St Michael at the North Gate (abbreviated to "St Michael's Church" elsewhere) offered us the use of their rooms for free. At this point, we advertised for volunteer teachers and assistants and had an overwhelming response. With so many people willing to teach, we formed a parallel organisation alongside the Living Wage Campaign. FELLOW, an acronym for Free English Language Lessons for Overseas Workers, was the name given to the organisation founded in November 2007.
The first lessons took place in February 2008 and were a great success. As participants brought family and friends along to classes the emphasis quickly shifted from contracted University staff to allowing anyone who wished to attend lessons. FELLOW's aim is to provide people with the language skills to succeed in their jobs and the confidence to better integrate into society.